Sunday, February 20, 2011

Check out Laura's List of Awesome!

I love both projects and list-making. I approach everything like a project, even things that just seem like "work" or monotony. In tribute to my two loves, I will start the first of a series of posts called the "Laura's List of Awesome" or something like that. Here are my latest, in no particular order, except for coming to my mind in thusly:

  • My manuscript
  • Submitting my chapbook manuscript to contests
  • Sending out poems to journals
  • Weave's 6th issue
  • Weave reading & collaborations
  • Interview with editors
  • Write intro for next Weave
  • CLJ Guest Editing
  • Transfer Teaching Certification
  • Job Applications
  • Yoga
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Write another sestina
  • Write a villanelle
  • Words & Beats Reading
  • MFA Prom
  • 2010 Taxes
  • Rereading The Giver
  • Teaching The Giver
  • Class Event at work
  • 100 other things I forgot

Oh boy! I Heart Lists! Here is a picture of the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade from atop a big hill.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm Still In Love

I've never really had a problem with Valentine's Day. I spent a lot of years heartbroken on February 14th and still, I've never really felt bitter about a celebrating a day for love. I do have cause to though. Both of my high school boyfriends broke up with me shortly before Valentine's Day. One dumped me on Groundhogs day and subsequently for a couple of years I harbored ill-will against all woodchucks. Since that first heartache fifteen years ago (wow, I love that I have been falling in love for fifteen years!), I still managed to keep my optimism and I really have family to thank for that. One family member in particular was always my Valentine and always will be. My grandpa.

Lloyd and I were pals since the day I was born. We fell in love that day and that was that. We were solid. I knew he had my back and I had his, even as a newborn. It took me a while to learn this, but I had the power to melt this tough Italian man with a simple smile.

I never took advantage of my power of him. Well, maybe sometimes, when I was home sick from school and I really wanted a McDonald's Happy Meal (the cure-all for 'I-don't-want-to-go-to-school-itis'). We spent countless hours driving in his old gray Chevy pick-up truck. He was always whistling or humming or singing something. He used to walk my brother's and I to the bus stop. We helped his farmer friends sell their corn on the road side. He told us stories about how he and his siblings would get oranges for Christmas. He loved fruit. On Valentine's Day, he bought me candy hearts. I loved the mixture of sweets and words. He was there for me. He and I loved unconditionally.

This is a strange and wonderful kind of love. It sets the bar to an almost impossible high. Having loved and been loved unconditionally, it set me up for some serious heartache in my teens and twenties. Many of the people I dated felt I was too intense, too emotional, too attached. I realize now that they did not recognize my fervor. It took me a long time to realize how unusual it was share this kind of love.

It wasn't all hugs and candy hearts. There were tensions with my grandpa and I. It was difficult to form an adult relationship with him. His fondest memories were from my childhood. He saw me grow and get married, and then get divorced. His dreams of becoming a great-grandfather were put on hold. He was old-fashioned. Didn't I want a family like mine? He didn't want me to leave Pittsburgh. Why would I leave? My family is in Pittsburgh.

When my grandpa died last December, it really shook me. I had been mentally preparing myself for a decade, since he'd been sick for that long. But you can't really prepare. You can't know what it's like to watch your family all simultaneously want to curl up and be alone. Especially a family that is normally so extroverted, so inclined to be together. You can't know what it will be like to watch your grandmother mourn the loss of her partner of 63 years. But also, I was surprised by how life has to continue. He died during my finals week of my first semester in graduate school. While I got extensions for all my assignments, after the funeral I was relieved to have something to keep me busy. Something to help distract me from this loss.

This morning I woke up thinking about my grandpa. I saw an orange on my desk. It started me thinking about how he was instrumental in my becoming a poet. I have always had poetry inside of me. But having loved and been loved unconditionally, I know about living life with passion. The notion that art is about suffering is false. Life includes suffering, always. There are times when we will find ourselves on the ground, without words, drained of life's poetry. But like love, poetry is a way to survive that suffering. A way to celebrate our continued survival. To celebrate our thriving. Poetry causes us to pay close attention, to value every word, every minute, every song. My grandfather taught me how to be in love. Poetry taught me how to crawl my way back toward that love. We must crawl back to it. This poet is building bridges toward an unconditional love with each poem, stanza, line, word, letter.

Monday, February 7, 2011

AWP Wrap-Up and What's Up Next

AWP was amazing. This was only my second time attending, but it was far superior to my first time around. I was more experienced as a tabler, I made it to the panels I really wanted to see, I enjoyed meeting contributors, and all around I felt more connected. Weave did well too. We sold a bunch of the new issue as well as back issues. We also got the word out to people who hadn't heard of us yet and hopefully forged some new connections with other editors for ad swaps and other collaborations.

Once again, I'm reading this Friday at 7pm at Word Circus. I'm going to read some material from my new manuscript, and maybe some old favorites as well. It would be great to see you there. Click on the flyer below to RSVP to the Facebook invitation!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

News News News

I've been busily preparing for February and it's finally here. I leave for Washington D.C. on the Megabus tomorrow. In theory, I'm going to be very productive on the way down, since the bus has WIFI. I have a presentation next week, plus an event next Friday. Who knows what might happen though.

Weave's reading period just ended and we have a record number of submissions: 491 total! That is way above our average of 350 for the past few issues. I'm constantly impressed with the quality of the submissions we are getting and I'm really looking forward to shaping this new issue. I can't wait until I have some real time to get in there and readreadread.

The AWP Conference is really coming together this year. Weave and A cappella Zoo have a table at the book fair, I'm presenting at the pedagogy forums on Friday morning, and so many friends will be attending. I'm also looking forward to meeting some online poet-friends, especially Lisa Marie Basille and Sally Rosen Kindred. I love that the internet lets us develop friendships long distance. It really shifts our thinking about community and mentoring and collaboration. It can all be done long distance. So wonderful.

I recently had my poem "Missing" accepted and published (both within a week's time) at Glass: A Journal of Poetry. This was a happy surprise for me, since I had stopped sending this poem out to journals. I'm really glad it found out a home. 

Finally, I will be reading some poems from my currently untitled manuscript at Word Circus next Friday, February 11th at Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery. It starts at 7pm and will include food, poetry, fiction, artwork and wine. I even have some watercolors in the show (picture below)! It will be a great time. Definitely stop by.

 "Self-Portraits" by Laura E. Davis

PS: I have a website! I'm all official n'at.